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Thursday
Oct132016

We've moved! Visit our new location

Please join us at the new location: marscatalystblog.com

We've listened to your feedback, and have rolled out a new site with additional features and a mobile-friendly design. Of course, our great team of Catalysts, partners and fellows will continue to create the content.

Note, this site will no longer be updated with new material, so please re-set your bookmarks and shortcuts.

-- Catalysts


Tuesday
Sep132016

Stormy weather forecast for financial markets?

Capital markets can play an important role in mutuality, as a greater percentage of people become invested in them, and as they provide a supportive environment for social investments. In a recent outlook for Bloomberg View, consultant and portfolio manager A. Gary Shilling outlines why he believes global financial markets may face severe conditions in the near future (along with a handful of factors that have the potential to soften the expected market headwinds).

The stressors include:

  • Further fallout from Brexit;
  • Low oil prices (and weak demand); and
  • A global labor surplus.

He argues further that central banks are already taking extraordinary steps with monetary policy (quantitative easing and negative interest rates), to little effect. At some point these will spark a market correction, perhaps a significant one.

Still there are factors that may ameliorate some of these stressors, including the relative value of stocks compared to government bonds, and the potential for more infrastructure investment by the U.S. in the years ahead.

-- Catalysts

 

Thursday
Sep012016

A critique of Creating Shared Value

Measuring and managing non-financial performance is a cornerstone of the Economics of Mutuality. In order to develop new business models in which mutuality drives superior business performance, it is necessary to understand, quantify and track non-financial forms of "capital," such as social, human, and natural. In doing so, we seek to successfully decipher the patterns that drive shared prosperity to low income communities, among other goals.

Various theories and systems have been put forward recently related to this field, including Michael Porter and Mark Kramer's Creating Shared Value (CSV), a concept they outlined in Harvard Business Review.

CSV has received significant attention since its publication, gaining a wide audience in academic and business circles, but it has also attracted its share of criticism. Rigorous review and testing are essential to learning an progress, and we found this critique of CSV -- published by professors from a number of prominent business schools -- to be worth reading.

We suggest that the concept makes some significant progress towards enhancing attention to the social dimensions of business, and may act as a spur for better practice. However ... CSV also suffers from a number of serious shortcomings that will erode any real possibility for the more fundamental change aimed at by the authors."  

-- from Contesting the Value of "Creating Shared Value"

In it, the authors find CSV has serious shortcomings, namely: it is unoriginal; it ignores the tensions inherent to responsible business activity; it is naive about business compliance; and it is based on a shallow conception of the corporation’s role in society.

 

Wednesday
Aug312016

Responsible Business Forum -- Watch the Videos

A wide selection of videos from the event are now available for viewing on our Events page. Enjoy them and join the conversation.

-- Bruno Roche

Tuesday
Aug302016

Accelerating the next billion

Many tech startups and their corporate venturing partners or incubators focus on hitting it big within the hot consumer markets – U.S., Europe and China – aiming to be the next Unicorn or the next big target. Google, on the other hand, is using its accelerator program, Launchpad, to tap into the preferences and pain points of its next target market – the next billion (emerging markets like India, Brazil and Indonesia, which house the next billion people that will be coming online). It’s no secret that Google sees great potential within emerging markets, and is pulling out all the stops to make sure it does it right.

Speaking to the Financial Times, entrepreneurs from emerging markets worldwide offer up a few of the lessons they’re teaching their mentor Google when it comes to making progress – and importantly, an impact – within this digitally evolving group of emerging market consumers who are often hindered by spotty internet connectivity and low-bandwidth.

For example, FT points out, many Western developers make the assumption that online billing features are needed, when in reality this group of consumers doesn’t have widespread access to credit cards. Or, as Jorge Abraham Soto Moreno, the co-founder and CTO of Miroculus points out, regional regulations that restrict certain functions of an app are often taken for granted by Western developers, such as Brazil’s restrictions to house health data on the cloud. Cultural preferences should be considered when developing technology for emerging market consumers, such as India’s and China’s preference for a “crowded style of user interface.”

Lessons aren’t one sided at Launchpad, with emerging market participants learning of the benefits certain Western developments offer, such as live chat features and the possibilities made available through artificial intelligence and machine learning. Ultimately, Google has tapped into an opportunity to better bridge intel from all areas of the world, helping drive greater success opportunities for emerging market startups, while also gleaning insights into what drives the next billion and their quest for digital.

-- Clara Shen